Unexpected travel ideas for 2022: Antarctica from the air

While activity in the Antarctic may occur at land or sea level, the enormity of Antarctica is best seen from the air. Image/Getty Images

For those looking for adventure, few destinations are as highly regarded as Antarctica. The storied white continent has always topped my travel wish list but, unfortunately, it has remained elusive.

Fearing that motherhood might factor in adventure travel for a while, my plan had always been to visit Antarctica before starting a family but fate had other ideas. The epidemic broke out in the middle of my pregnancy, and in March 2020 the unthinkable happened: my country, Australia, closed its borders. My son was born two months later.

During the silent suckling in the early hours of the morning, my mind always wandered to Antarctica. But as I navigated my way through this new normal, the stop-and-go nature of lockdowns, I felt as if my dream was fading away. Then I remembered something I had read about scenic flights over Antarctica.

Even today, the last great wilderness still requires the arrival of the vast majority of travelers by ship; And along the way, you make a treacherous two-day crossing of the infamous Drake Passage, home to some of the most choppy waters in the world.

For those looking for adventure, few destinations are as highly regarded as Antarctica.  image / 123rf
For those looking for adventure, few destinations are as highly regarded as Antarctica. image / 123rf

Unmounted slides hit the barrier
Raise a drop to the rank
body wave goosebumps
We bomb the south. “

American poet and naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield writes of the Drake Passage in Towards Antarctica: an exploration.

Intrepid ship passengers spy the first icebergs around the South Shetland Islands, about 120 kilometers north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Here, barren rocks rise from the subzero waters and are covered in glistening white snow. To call it a welcome sight is definitely an understatement. From this point on, the scenery becomes even more impressive.

English writer Sarah Wheeler wrote: “Along the island’s jagged coast, the land met a solid sea in a tangle of blue-shaded pressure ledges or the folded slopes of a glacier. The first sighting of Antarctica, in a world bestseller Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica.

“An iceberg braided in ice was wetted in ice, its steep, jagged walls reflecting the creamy saffron sun. The sky was a rich royal blue, before the volcanic marble pillars of Mount Erebus swung before it, and a pale blue sheen appeared over the snow-wrapped sea like a blanket of glittering membrane.” Unlike most travelers, when explorer Wheeler arrived via military plane, he landed on the frozen sea between Ross Island and Antarctica.

The vast majority of travelers visit Antarctica by ship;  They braved a two-day treacherous crossing of the infamous Drake Passage.  Image/Getty Images
The vast majority of travelers visit Antarctica by ship; They braved a two-day treacherous crossing of the infamous Drake Passage. Image/Getty Images

Although passengers on Antarctic flights (antarcticaflights.com.au) don’t land as well as Wheeler did, they do have a rare chance to see the continent from the air. With only hand luggage, travelers file a 787 Dreamliner chartered in Sydney – and other Australian cities – for what is arguably the world’s most unique scenic flight, a 12.5-hour return flight with three to four hours over Antarctica.

Scattered ice appears about three hours south of Australia. Icebergs and ice floes follow, before the trip crosses the South Magnetic Pole, where the mainland’s rugged mountainous terrain can be seen. But how can such unique landscapes be enjoyed through the windows of organized planes? They can’t, which is why windows on Antarctic cruises are 65 percent larger than those on other ships of this type.

Flying at an altitude of about 10,000 feet, the aircraft flies in a sweeping eight to ensure that both sides of the aircraft can take in points of interest. Explorers and Expeditions in Antarctica provide context, with onboard talks about the polar environment, and live ferries to research stations on Earth.

Aviation turbochargers travel in an armchair, replacing the armchair with an airplane seat and providing an unforgettable experience – minus the long ocean trip and freezing temperatures. It is also as close as possible to resisting epidemics; As a return flight that does not land, it is considered an Australian domestic flight. Best of all, in October 2020, the site was still making reservations. I was sold.

ICEolation documents Sophie Balagh and Ewan Blyth's two-week kayak exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Image/Getty Images
ICEolation documents Sophie Balagh and Ewan Blyth’s two-week kayak exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula. Image/Getty Images

Although the first available flight wasn’t until 2022, it seemed like a safe bet given the uncertainty around the pandemic. Studies have shown that the anticipation of travel can make us as happy as actually going on the trip, so I felt like a dream trip in Antarctica was the perfect antidote to life in lockdown.

And what better time to consume books, movies, and TV shows around the continent to stoke such anticipation? It turns out there’s a story about Antarctica for all kinds of travelers, from Apsley Cherry-Garrard The worst trip in the world It is considered one of the best books written on this subject – for the film happy feet, with cheerful singing penguins.

Among the favorites was iceAn enchanting 28-minute documentary about adventurers Sophie Balagh and Iwan Blyth and their two-week self-supported kayak exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula. More video memoirs than documentaries, the couple’s enthusiasm for their rare and ambitious journey is infectious.

While I wouldn’t feel the thrill of paddling through icebergs or encountering a sleeping humpback whale as they did, it was heartening to note that the film begins with a large-scale aerial shot of Antarctica, a common theme in documentaries on the continent. Because while the event may take place at land or sea level, the enormity and stunning landscapes of Antarctica are best seen from the air.

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